A reader who frequents health and fitness sites is disturbed by a lack of professional editing:
I’ve noticed that nobody, literally nobody makes a distinction between the noun “workout” and the verb “work out.” On every website, I find statements like “You have to workout three times a week.” So I was wondering if you could address that issue in one of your upcoming posts.
The reader is not exaggerating by much. Here are some examples from health and fitness sites and forums that I visited:
How often should you workout per week?
Should be: How often should you work out per week?
Where do you workout?
Should be: Where do you work out?
First, warm up with some joint rotations, in order to lubricate your joints and prepare them for the work out.
Should be: First, warm up with some joint rotations, in order to lubricate your joints and prepare them for the workout.
I’m a night person and prefer to workout at night.
Should be: I’m a night person and prefer to work out at night.
A few people have asked me what my work out routine is.
Should be: A few people have asked me what my workout routine is.
NOTE: One-word workout is also used as an adjective as in “my workout routine.”
One way to avoid the error is to look for words that precede the terms. The noun workout is often preceded by an article or an adjective: “the workout,” “my workout.” The verb is often used in its infinitive form, so the preceding to provides a useful clue.
Here are some examples of other noun/adjective/verb combinations that are confused in this way:
1. turnout (noun) / turn out (verb)
Big turn out for launch of new play area
Should be: Big turnout for launch of new play area
We had many parents turnout for the second high school informational meeting
Should be: We had many parents turn out for the second high school informational meeting.
2. washout (noun) / wash out (verb)
It is during this time that most recruits washout.
Should be: It is during this time that most recruits wash out.
Authorities concerned over wash out rate.
Should be: Authorities concerned over washout rate.
Three more such combos are: rollout/roll out, checkout/check out, and cutout /cut out. I’m sure you can think of more.
Here’s a mnemonic written in pig propaganda style (Animal Farm) that may help:
One word, Noun,
Two words, Verb.